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FFOULKES C. Armour & Weapons

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FFOULKES C.
Armour & Weapons
page 20



Next to the tunic was worn the Gambeson, called also the Wambais and Aketon, a quilted garment, either used as the sole defence by the foot-soldier, or, by the knight, worn under the hauberk to prevent the chain-mail from bruising the body under the impact of a blow. The gambeson is shown on Fig. 9, appearing beneath the edge of the hauberk just above the knee. The Hauberk, which was worn over the gambeson, was the chief body defence. It is true that we read of a ' plastron de fer ', which seems to have been a solid metal plate worn over the breast and sometimes at the back ; but it was invariably put on either under the hauberk itself or over the hauberk, but always beneath the Jupon or surcoat, which at this period was the outermost garment worn. In either case it was not exposed to view, so it is impossible to tell with any degree of accuracy what was its shape or how it was fixed to the wearer. Hewitt1 gives two illustrations of carved wooden figures in Bamberg Cathedral, which show a plastron de fer worn over the jupon, which seems to be studded with metal. The figures were executed about the year 1370. The form of the hauberk, as shown on the Bayeux Tapestry, was of the shirt order (Plate I, 4, 6). It was usually slit to the waist, front and back, for convenience on horseback, and the skirts reached to the knee, thus protecting the upper leg. It is perhaps needless to point out that the extreme weight of mail with its thick padded undergarment made the use of a horse a necessity, for the weight was all borne upon the shoulders, and was not, as is the case with suits of plate, distributed over the limbs and body of the wearer. The sleeves of the hauberk were sometimes short ; sometimes they were long and ended in fingerless mittens of mail. The three varieties of sleeve are shown on Plate I, while the mittens turned back to leave the hand bare appear on the Setvans brass (Plate ΠΙ, 2). Wace, the chronicler, seems to suggest different forms of defensive habiliments, for we find mention of a short form of the 1 Ancient Armour, ii. 138. CHAP. I THE AGE OF MAIL 23


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